Aaron Lieberman – Orange Torpedo Trips

Aaron Lieberman is the Operations Manager for Orange Torpedo Trips. In between packing trips, scheduling guides, and driving from ramp to ramp, he somehow finds time to get on the river in a kayak or raft. His trusty side kick, Chetco the lab, often joins in on Aaron’s adventures. Aaron grew up on the Rogue and floats the Wild & Scenic stretch year-round.

The Interview

What is your connection to the Rogue River?

I’m a recreational boater, former guide and operations manager of Orange Torpedo Trips.

How long have you been working or recreating on the Rogue?

I’ve been floating the Rogue since childhood, and working on the Rogue for 9 years.

What are your favorite qualities of the Rogue River?

My favorite qualities of the Rogue are: its wildness, its rapids and pools and the landscape of fog in the evergreens falling over the river on cool mornings.

Favorite spot on the Rogue?

Mule Creek Canyon.

Can you describe the community of people who visit or work on the Rogue?

There is definitely a sense of community on the Wild & Scenic Rogue. It comes in part from the local boaters who grew up on its banks, those who have made it their homes and a central part of their lives and from those who find their way to it later on and from time to time. It reveals itself in the relationships among guides, lodge owners and staff and in the interaction and support among all of those who float its course. There’s a sense of shared place and purpose on the Rogue. If you find yourself in need of help, you won’t want for it. We rely on the river, what it gives us, and it depends on us in turn. We’re all in this thing together.

Has the Rogue River changed you? How has it shaped your life?

The Rogue hasn’t changed me so much as its helped form me. I cannot disentangle the threads of the river from the weave of my person. It’s woven into my childhood memories, my friendships, my desire and priorities. It’s helped me to appreciate simple things and wild places. It’s encouraged me to “go with the flow” and live in the moment. It’s likely a big part of why I don’t spend my off days watching TV and its gravity has pulled me ever back to it, so that now my professional and personal life are as much a part of it as it is of me.

What is the personality of the Rogue River?

The Rogue is wild, literally, not figuratively. Yet its forested, winding canyon lends it a familiar feel, like being pulled into the fold. Its rapids offer a combination of relative ease and difficulty, fun but not scary, with periods of calm punctuated my moments of stimulation. It’s at once forgiving of the intermediate boater while still enjoyable for the expert.

Any examples?

I can’t convey the character of this river in any story of experience. It would be like describing a person by their fingertip. The Rogue’s character is a mosaic of the experiences and stories of those who have joined it along its inexorable course. It is at once dynamic and unchanging. To abuse the cliche quote: “No man steps in the same river twice, for it is not the same river and he is not the same man.” (Heraclitus)

What would you tell someone who has yet to visit the Rogue?

“Something hidden. Go and find it. Go and look behind the Ranges – Something lost behind the Ranges. Lost and waiting for you. Go!” – Kipling